Avoid clearing Indonesian forests in rebuilding AcehBY TEOH TEIK HOONG
PETALING JAYA: Four to eight million cubic metres of logs will be needed for the reconstruction effort in formerly timber-rich Aceh over the next five years.
Greenomics Indonesia, a policy research institute, and WWF, the global conservation organisation, said to avoid the clearing of hundreds of thousands of hectares of Indonesian forests, alternative foreign sources of timber should be explored so as not to create further financial burdens for the Indonesian government.
In a statement released recently, Greenomics and WWF have proposed that some of the aid already pledged by donors for the reconstruction of Aceh should be made in the form of timber.
They calculate that this would amount to one million cubic metres per year, an amount that could quite easily be met by the donors’ joint efforts.
“The option of sourcing timber as aid from other countries is much more rational than accelerating land clearing of natural forests in the name of the reconstruction of Aceh,” said Elfian Efendi, the executive director of Greenomics.
“It is also important that the timber comes from sustainable sources. Otherwise in tackling one disaster we shall merely be creating another one,” he said.
Greenomics and WWF fear that if the government continued to source timber, particularly unsustainable supplies, from Indonesia, this would lead to severe flood and landslide problems.
Even before the tsunami, about 70% of timber was estimated to have come from unsustainable sources.
According to Indonesian environmental watchdog Walhi in its 2002 report, Indonesia was losing nearly two million hectares of forest annually – an area half the size of Switzerland.
According to Mubariq Ahmad, the executive director of WWF-Indonesia: “The WWF-Global Network is prepared to provide assistance to the Indonesian government to source timber internationally.”
The proposal for foreign aid in the form of timber is backed by the Indonesian parliament.
“This is a creative solution which will reduce pressure on the Indonesia’s natural forest,” said Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, a prominent parliamentarian who is also a former environment minister.